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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP 2010 | WSOP Tournaments

WSOP Day 23: Heads-Up and Seniors Heat Up, New $1K NLHE Begins

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There are people all over the world watching for tournament updates and trying to support friends and family who are playing in the 2010 World Series of Poker. There are also throngs of poker fans sweating their fantasy picks or favorite players via the internet. But some days, the WSOP can expect higher traffic than others. This was one of those days.

The seniors playing in their special event tend to have friends supporting them from home, as well as sons and daughters - even grandchildren - cheering for them from afar. Most of the players in the tournament are not well-known in the poker industry but have fans where it counts the most. And on the other side of the spectrum, the players in Round 3 of the heads-up championship have fans - poker enthusiasts around the world - who can’t wait to see who’s going to advance to the next rounds, the quarterfinals, and the finals. Both tournaments are of interest, and as the internet heats up with people refreshing their screens for updates, there are also those lucky enough to be in Las Vegas to sweat their family members, friends, or poker idols in person. The rail will be thick, and though the day will be long, the excitement will be paramount.

In addition to the seniors and heads-up tournaments played their second days, two tournaments completed their final days and end with winners. The $5K six-handed NLHE tournament and $2,500 PLHE/PLO  event still had a bit of play left before their official final tables began on Day 3, but they started with the intention of getting there quickly and finishing up during the nighttime hours.

Two new events also came into being, with noon bringing the first of two starting days of another $1K NLHE tournament and 5:00pm bringing a $3K buy-in HORSE event. The launch of two more tournaments kept the staff on its toes, the media in hustle mode, and players without a lack of something to do. Both the Amazon and Pavilion ballrooms were again full of poker life with six events, cash games, satellites, and as much poker action as most could handle.

Let’s take a look at an overview of each event as it played out.

Event 32: Day 3, $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em

Players claimed it to be one of the most popular events, despite its decrease from a 2009 field of 928 to a 2010 number of 568. But the tournament still brought a $2,669,600 prize pool into play, which was enough to allow for the last 54 players to be paid and the winner to receive $667,433. Day 1 brought the field from that 568 starting number down to 116 players, and that figure was further reduced on Day 2 as they played into the money and on to the end of the night when only 12 players remained. The final dozen returned on June 19 to play on to the final table and through until there was a winner. All of the action will be recapped in this event’s own article.

Event 33: Day 3, $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Omaha

The mix of PLHE and PLO is always an attraction for players, and this event was no different as 482 players signed up and created a prize pool of $1,108,600. The top 45 players were to be paid, though the top prize of $260,517 was reserved for the very last player standing. Day 1 reduced the field to only 126 players, but it was on Day 2 that the last 45 players worked their way into the money and the strongest and luckiest 14 players survived the day. Those people returned on June 19 to play toward the final table and on to the winner’s circle, and all of the action will be compiled into a separate summary upon the tournament’s completion.

Event 34: Day 2, $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship

The tournament that brings players 50-years of age and older to the tables continues to grow in popularity each year. While it doesn’t draw controversy from the poker community as does the ladies event, primarily because age limits are permitted by law and the gaming commission, it does bring players from around the world to the tables. This year, the number was 3,142, a significant increase from the 2,707 players in the 2009 event. The 2010 number took the prize pool to $2,827,800, which was to be distributed to the top 324 players with $487,994 given to the winner.

Day 1 dropped the number of participants from 3,142 to 450 by the end of the day, and Tom Schneider was the chip leader with 94K. Day 2 then brought back those 450 players and quickly saw the field thin toward the money bubble. But before that happened, some of the players hit the rail, including Mike Sica, Dewey Tomko, and Sam Simon. When hand-for-hand play was initiated, it took only a few minutes for several players to be eliminated at the same time. Roger Keely, John Fitzmaurice, and another player all went out on the bubble at the same time, thus allowing them to split the 324th place money.

From that point forward, players busted at an increased rate, and some of the notables out in the money included Tom Franklin, Sigi Stockinger, Hoyt Corkins, Randy Holland, TJ Cloutier, Charles Shoten, Susie Isaacs, and Eddy Scharf. It was late into the night when the requisite time was called in the tournament, at which point 23 players remained in the field. At the top of the leaderboard was Michael Minetti with 1,038,000 chips, followed by Carlos Pianelli with 877K. The rest of the top five consisted of Preston Derden, Eric Stemp, and John Woo, and notable Tom Schneider was in 14th.

The final 23 were set to return to the Rio’s Amazon Room on Sunday at 2:30pm to play down to the final table and presumably on through to the winner’s circle.

Event 35: Day 2, $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship

The heads-up championship is one of the biggest WSOP attractions for players and one of the most watched by fans, despite it not being broadcast on ESPN. Each year, the field is capped at 256 players in order to maintain the brackets properly, and the 2010 HU NLHE had no problem bringing that many players to the tables, even with the $10K buy-in. That meant the prize pool was set at $2,406,400, which would pay the top 32 players, all of whom had to win three rounds of heads-up play to get into the money. Ultimately, the winner was looking at a prize of $625,682 for winning the final round.

Day 1 saw the 256 players finish the first round to reduce the field to 128 players, and Round 2 took them to the final 64. Those players were able to leave for the night and return on Saturday to compete in the next round. Day 2 started with those matches, and the first was decided when Kido Pham defeated Phil Ivey in only a few minutes. Others winning their matches early in the day were Ernst Schmejkal, Chris Moorman, Ayaz Mahmood, Vivek Rajkumar, and Alex Kravchenko.  

Round 3 finished up after a few hours, and the 32 players still in the game were all guaranteed a minimum payout of $17,987. Round 4 was then set to begin at 7:00pm that night with the following matchups:

Jason Somerville vs. Julian Herold
Martin Kabrhel vs. Darren Woods
Gavin Smith vs. Maxim Lykov
Anton Kozlovskiy vs. Kido Pham
Nicholas Rampone vs. Faraz Jaka
Amritraj Singh vs. Phil Gordon
Brian Rast vs. Antonio Esfandiari
Ayaz Mahmood vs. Kevin Saul
Sorel Mizzi vs. Chris Moorman
Alexander Kostritsyn vs. Keith Block
Scott Clements vs. Bertrand Grospellier
Timothy Adams vs. Ludovic Lacay
Ernst Schmejkal vs. David Williams
Alexander Kravchenko vs. Sam Stein
Vanessa Rousso vs. Melanie Weisner
Vivek Rajkumar vs. Michael Glasser

As those matches got underway, Jason Somerville was the first to progress, and he was followed by Kido Pham and Brian Rast. After Gavin Smith defeated Max Lykov, the final 16 players were set to do battle in Round 5 as follows:

Jason Somerville vs. Martin Kabrhel
Gavin Smith vs. Kido Pham
Faraz Jaka vs. Phil Gordon
Brian Rast vs. Ayaz Mahmood
Chris Moorman vs. Alexander Kostritsyn
Bertrand Grospellier vs. Ludovic Lacay
Ernst Schmejkal vs. Alexander Kravchenko
Vanessa Rousso vs. Vivek Rajkumar

Ayaz Mahmood was the first to move on, and Alexander Kostritsyn was next. Vanessa Rousso then defeated Vivek Rajkumar, Ernst Schmejkal won his match, Ludovic Lacay progressed, and Jason Somerville moved forward, followed by Faraz Jaka and Kido Pham. T

The quarterfinals were then set and ready for the following day. All players would start at 3:00pm with 960,000 chips each, and the match-ups were set as follows:

Jason Somerville vs. Kido Pham
Faraz Jaka vs. Ayaz Mahmood
Alexander Kostritsyn vs. Ludovic Lacay
Ernst Schmejkal vs. Vanessa Rousso

The Amazon Room at the Rio would host the rest of the heads-up matches on Sunday, June 20.

Event 36: Day 1A, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em

Noon brought the start of a new tournament, though not a new concept to the 2010 WSOP. It was the fourth weekend and the fourth $1K NLHE tournament, and there was still no shortage of players willing to give it a chance. The lowest buy-in for an open tournament at the WSOP continues to enable the staff to fill the tables week after week, and though the crowd looked to be smaller than the first week, it was going to remain in contention with the second and third. The ability to win a WSOP bracelet for $1,000 never gets old.

The first of the two starting days brought 2,411 players to the tables, and though it didn’t look like much compared to the masses in the Rio for the seniors’ event the previous day, it was still an impressive number. But the total number of players in the field and the prize pool would not be known until registration closed on the following day, so play merely proceeded toward the end of the night, keeping in mind that play was set to stop early - without finishing the usual ten levels - if the field was reduced to 15 percent of the starting number.

Some of the early casualties included Jason Mercier, Alex Gomes, Alan Smurfit, Sorel Mizzi, Devin Porter, Lauren Kling, Tony Dunst, and Steve Gross. The field thinned very quickly through the evening hours, and by the middle of the eighth level, only about 15 percent remained, prompting tournament officials to shut it down for the night. The final count of remaining players was 287, and the one with the most chips was Scott Montgomery with 75,200 chips. In second place was Bernard Ko with 70,100 chips, followed by Mark Leonard, Neil Channing, and Edwin Chang.

Those players were then off to enjoy their Sundays in Las Vegas, while June 20 brought a new set of faces to the field for Day 1B of the tournament.

Event 37: Day 1, $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.

Players can’t seem to get enough of HORSE. There was a $1,500 HORSE tournament earlier in the Series, but offering the opportunity for $3K clears the field of some of the amateurs and ensures that there will be fewer player mistakes and a higher caliber field, even if only by a slight margin. With all five games in constant rotation - holdem, Omaha, razz, stud, and stud-8, players had the chance to use their skills in the best of the five games and play on the weak games of others. It’s a complicated charge and one that requires some serious concentration and poker abilities, but poker players don’t often shrink from such a challenge.

In 2009, the field consisted of 452 players, but this year’s event soared to 478 players, showing a solid increase. The current prize pool came to $1,319,280, which was set to pay out 48 players and leave $329,840 for the winner. As play got underway at 5:00pm for Day 1 of the event, after some disputes over bring-ins and such were sorted out, some players left early to presumably enjoy Saturday night in Las Vegas. Those names included Greg Raymer, David Bach, Erick Lindgren, John D’Agostino, Linda Johnson, Barry Greenstein, Allen Kessler, and Jerry Buss.

When all scuffles were resolved and play finally ended for the night, there were 219 players left in the field, and Jordan Siegel was the chip leader with 66,900 chips. Second place on the leaderboard was occupied by Mark Johns, and the rest of the top five included David Baker, Darus Suharto, and Dan Heimiller.

Day 2 was set for Sunday, June 20, and players would return at 3:00pm in an attempt to play down to the final table.

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